This is a method I learned in DBT, I think its also used in CBT. The idea here is to alleviate distressing situations with soothing ones.
A big problem I face in the world with anxiety is the external onslaught of sensations. I’m not asking for a loud noise to startle me, or for a stranger to yell, or any other external sensation that produces extremely strong negative feelings.
A good way to combat this is by keeping a bag full of things that will give you strong positive feelings from external sensations. Of course this takes a good deal of self awareness, and take the time to learn what feels good and what doesn’t.
Focus on one of the 5 senses at a time, and figure out some things that you know you like from each of those categories: Sight, touch, taste, smell, and sound. Or, something very strong— you may not find mints enjoyable, but the strong taste can calm your body’s responses by having something physical to focus on.
Some common ingredients to a successful Sensory kit
- Use things that are your favorite color.
- A wallet-sized picture of someone or something you enjoy
- Landscapes are common.
- Baby animals!
- Funny photos
- Pictures—! really you can go all out with this, because you can take photos of anything these days.
- Blowing bubbles
- Positive affirmations
- Travel-sized play doug, or putty
- Soft objects
- Stress relief Magnets
- Stress balls
- Tactile beads
- Wood, metal, etc.
- Rubber bands
- Rubbing stones
- Kneading eraser
- Sour or hot candies.
- A favorite snack
- Aromatherapy oils
- Travel sized scented hand sanitizers
- Lavender is quite popular
- Menthol, commonly used for soothing colds.
- Scratch and sniff stickers
- MP3 player playlist
- Music boxes
- Nature sounds
- Classical music
- Running/moving water
Sensory kits can be any size that fits your lifestyle. As a student I’m in many different places and need something very easy to carry around and keep inconspicuous. But if you’re stationary a lot of the time, in a cubical or working at home, you can go a little larger and keep it in a safe place.
Even the container you choose will be sensory-pleasing! Its important to find something that just looking at it fills you with a sense of pleasure.
When a distressing event occurs you can pull out one of your sensory-soothing items and use it to alleviate the stress of a situation. This works for anxiety, anger, depression… any strong, physical emotion!
I’ll post some pictures of my own sensory kit later. If you have your own, or have some ideas that aren’t listed here feel free to send them to me! c: